14 July 1950
Tydings Committee Denounces McCarthy
One of the most immediate effects of Joseph McCarthy’s February 9 Wheeling speech was the creation of the Senate Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees, better known as the Tydings Committee after its chair, Maryland Democrat Millard Tydings. The committee was formed to examine McCarthy’s charge that there were 205 known communists in the State Department, and it held hearings to that end from February to July 1950.

The most dramatic moment in the hearings came when Earl Browder, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States, claimed that in 1942 the State Department had adopted the party’s policy on China. Nevertheless, the final report of the committee dismissed McCarthy’s claims as a “fraud,” and denied that the administration had been lax on matters of internal security.

The committee’s findings were significant, but they came at an unfortunate time. The Korean War had just broken out three weeks earlier, so they were overshadowed by events in Asia. Moreover, just three days after the report was issued Julius Rosenberg was arrested on charges of having supplied the Soviets with information on the atomic bomb. With Soviet espionage in the headlines once again, McCarthy’s accusations seemed to take on new life.

The one tangible result of the committee’s work was that McCarthy bore a personal grudge against Millard Tydings, who was up for reelection that year. McCarthy made a point of campaigning for his Republican opponent, John M. Butler. More ominously, a doctored photograph showing Tydings with Earl Browder began to circulate in Maryland during the campaign, which may have contributed to his electoral defeat.